Friday, October 04, 2013

Horror Thoughts ‘13—Carrie (1976) ***½

R, 98 min.
Director: Brian De Palma
Writers: Lawrence D. Cohen, Stephen King (novel)
Starring: Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, Amy Irving, William Katt, Nancy Allen, Betty Buckley, John Travolta, P.J. Soles

Watching the opening credits of Brian De Palma’s “Carrie”, it struck me that this movie couldn’t be made today. That’s particularly poignant since they did just remake it and the remake will hit theaters on October 19. I imagine the opening sequence will be drastically different than the one De Palma crafted.

First of all, I don’t think a movie could escape an NC-17 rating today with the amount of nudity found in just the first three minutes, especially considering that all the nudity is of high school aged girls showering. It is well known that “Carrie” opens with a scene in which the lead character has her first period in the very public place of the high school showers. I’m sure the new version will not forgo this plot point, but I am pretty sure the MPAA, in their ultimate wisdom, would never allow the American public to be presented this material in such a direct manner as the original does.

It’s easy to see how gender stereotypes have changed since “Carrie”, but De Palma really broke some barriers here with his movie. The men are completely emasculated. The principal can barely take the idea of a girl getting her period. He practically runs screaming from his seat in his first scene. Carrie’s father is long gone, the ultimate deadbeat dad. John Travolta’s tough guy is practically mentally challenged, and poor William Katt has no say whatsoever his fate. The poetry he has supposedly written (he later confesses that he didn’t) combined with those glorious golden locks of his had to inspire questions about his sexuality at the time of the film’s release.

The women hold all the power and that power revolves around the menstruation cycle that starts the movie off and the life giving powers with which it imbues them. Here Carrie also holds life taking powers. Her mother speaks of hellfire and damnation, but her religious rhetoric is empty next to Carrie’s powers of womanhood. This is what you can expect from a horror movie made in the 70s. What can a modern day remake possibly offer that is new? I guess we’ll see in two weeks.

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